Design of public space is discrimination too!

From Lena Groeger at Digg

Discriminatory design and decision-making affects all aspects of our lives: from the quality of our health care and education to where we live to what scientific questions we choose to ask. It would be impossible to cover them all, so we’ll focus on the more tangible and visual design that humans interact with every day.

Groeger offers a number of legitimate problems, but then:

Industrial design plays a role as well, by steering human activities. For example, benches designed with prominent arm rests or shallow seats discourage homeless people from sleeping on them. This phenomenon is known as “hostile architecture” or more broadly, “unpleasant design.”

As one critic points out, it says a lot about a culture when its solution to homelessness is to put spikes on public surfaces. Not to mention the practice of setting sprinklers to go off in the middle of the night to douse unsuspecting sleepers in cold water, which one San Francisco church did. Maybe the better solution to the “design problem” of homelessness lies more in designing better policies and services than in making it harder for the homeless to find a place to sleep. More.

Reality check: Anyone familiar with the homeless knows that it is a no-win situation. If they are locked up in institutions, that is a violation of their personal liberties. If they are offered shelter, some become homeless because they abuse others in the shelter. These people may present a danger to passers-by if they sleep on park benches.

A common short circuit in progressive thinking is the tacit assumption that problems like homelessness can somehow be “solved,” consistent with a free society. They can only be managed, and sometimes there are saw-offs. One can only hope it’s not the worst of both worlds.

The world would certainly be worse without public facilities design or with design, one of whose primary goals was to make it easier to live on the street.

See also: Sensitivity training to cope with student traumas You know the sort of thing: The horror when the little asshat discovers that he must learn from a prof who has no use for his conflicted barrel of inner merde. (Fortunately, he can always get a job writing screeds about “discrimination” for some level of government.)

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